Branding versus search engine optimization

Branding versus search engine optimization

Branding versus search engine optimization is a marketing dilemma that large companies will have to face online. Often times, companies will have to decide whether to promote their own brand as their primary keyword phrase or to optimize for a more generic keyword phrase.

For example, a search engine report indicates that 1.3 million visitors per month search for the term "Best Buy." This same report states that the term "electronics" is searched by 1.1 visitors per month. The obvious choice in this scenario is for Best Buy to first optimize its own brand and then the word "electronics."

But let's take a competitor like Fry's Electronics. Approximately 95,000 visitors search for the term "Fry's" each month, well below those who search for "electronics." Does this mean that Fry's Electronics (an partner) should 

Currently, a Google search for "electronics" will show that Best Buy does not appear on the first two pages. Fry's ( is on the second page. But let's take one more look to see who is in the number 1 position: Sony.

By optimizing both words, Sony has caught a lot of Best Buy unattended traffic and perhaps even exceeds Best Buy traffic by doing this.

Another trademark problem is trademark infringement. The courts have confirmed that websites that use another company's brand name in their meta tags are committing trademark infringement. For example, a cat site would be a violation if it put the name of Best Buy in its meta tags in the hopes of getting traffic from this trademark. Large companies must protect themselves from others stealing their rightful traffic. However, these companies cannot protect a generic term like "electronics" as it is fair game for all electronics companies.

Therefore, to generate the highest return on investment, large companies must optimize their websites for both their own brands and the high-traffic generic keywords and phrases relevant to their sites. Otherwise, they are missing out on tons of online businesses.